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India Looks towards Self Reliance as Government Hikes Import Duty on Incense Sticks

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
Saumy Deepak Tripathi

The Khadi and Village Industries (KVIC) hailed the Union Government’s decision to hike the import duties from 10% to 25 % which it says will help in creating 1 lakh jobs in India within a period of eight to ten months. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs(CBIC) on Tuesday tweeted” Customs duty on bamboo imports by agarbatti manufacturers hiked from 10% to 25% with immediate effect to encourage the use of domestic bamboo for Atma Nirbhar Bharat. The 25% customs duty rate shall now uniformly apply to any import of bamboo, including by traders”.

The KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said that the decision will not only help the agarbatti industry but also the bamboo industry. India is the second-largest producer of bamboo accounting for more than 30% of the total global output but at the same time is also the second-largest importer of bamboo products.

“Agarbatti making industry is a part of the Village Industry, which requires a very small capital and less technical skill. This industry employs mostly women workers. In the post COVID scenario, this industry will prove to be a boon for the migrant workers. The Agarbatti industry can realize the Prime Minister’s dream of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’”, Saxena added.

According to the KVIC, the consumption of incense sticks is 1490 tonnes per day out of which only 760 tonnes are produced locally with the rest coming from countries like China and Vietnam. The import had increased from 2% to 80% within a decade due to the provisions under the Indo-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement which hit the local industries hard.

The government on the request of KVIC had put the import of raw agarbatti under the restricted category on August 31, 2019, and helped in reviving any local units but at the same time, these industries began importing raw materials for agarbatti which increased the import from 210 crores in 2018-19 to 370 crore in 2019-20.

The KVIC has also started a special plantation drive of saplings of Bamboos across the country to reduce the dependency on imports. The aim is to plant 20,000 bamboo trees every year to achieve self-dependence by 2020.

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